Are they worth a buck each?
Are they worth a buck each?
For me the cost is worth the convenience. Dried dates which are mostly sugar work about as well, probably cost as much, but I can only eat so many. I mix dates, which are better for hunger suppression, and gels.
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Higher carb count, with little sugar in the good ones. Compact and convenient as far as I'm concerned. I don't always bring them along, and you can also get them in larger bottles and use the squeezable fuel bottles instead. Cuts the cost down considerably.
That's such a subjective question. Where I'm from, Clif Bars, PowerBars, etc. cost about $1 each. Bars tend to have more calories than gels, so you tend to get more for your money in that sense.
But gels offer their own advantages that may make them worth the money for you. As noted, some people see them as more convenient. Others find them easier on their stomachs than solid food. You should try a few for yourself to see if these advantages are true for you. Then it's up to you to decide if those advantages are worth the money.
One final note is that if the longer the ride, the more issues your stomach may give you. This is when having a wide variety of foods becomes very important. If you get to the point where you can't force yourself to down any solid food, a gel will definitely be worth the money if you're able to force it down.
Hey you can always do your own pancake syrup/honey mixture or whatever.Are they worth a buck each?
I consider the "gel packs" a luxury. I usually mix up to 500cals of Cytomax in single bottle and put only water in a Camelback or the other bottle. Hammergel is great, but almost as costly as single gel packs.
The idea that you can use a gel pack without fluids needs to be repeated.
I've come around 360 on them. For a while, I brought nothing else on my rides. But the cost just didn't make sense to me after a while.
I now rely mostly on fig bars and dried apricots (at about 1/10 the cost). And carry a couple gels as emergency backup.
If I'm on a long ride that is fast (no breaks), or an unsupported century, I will bring a gel flask.
I've tried them a half dozen times now and I can't really say if they worked or not. every time I've used them I was tired but not totally wasted and it's not like I really felt any boost in energy but I also took them 1/2 way through the ride and made it the rest of the way with no problems. I want to try that new gatorade too and see if that is any good.
Ideally you shouldn't have to resort to using them. They are for emergency back-up use. Ideally you should be consuming adequate calories through your sports drink and your choice of solid food.
However, I do bring a couple packets with me just in case I fall behind on my consumption of solid food and start to feel a bit shaky ... a packet of gel gives me quickly digested carbs which raise my blood sugar quickly, and then I immediately back it up with solid food again. As RC mentioned, your own mix of syrup or honey would do the same thing.
Just keep in mind that gels are not some sort of "rocket fuel" which will suddenly increase your speed by 3 mph or anything ... all they do is raise your blood sugar. If you've been consuming fuel regularly, you won't likely notice anything at all when you consume a packet of gel. If you're on the verge of bonking, or in the early stages of bonking, you'll probably feel a bit better for a little while. That's all they'll do for you.
If they work for you.Originally Posted by gqsmoothie
For me, they don't - I have a hard time getting the right amount of water, and I'd rather use a hydration drink than have sticky fingers and gel packs all the time.
I do keep a couple in my seat pack for emergencies.
Its an easy source of calories (and a little more). To compare it to a leading sports drink you would need to consume 16 and maybe 24oz to equal one small gel pack. With the distance and effort I do on my long days theres no way I could drink enough sports drink (without pee'ing every 20 minutes) to match it.
I like the ones with added caffeine (e.g., Strawberry Vanilla Power Gel). The carbs in gels get into your bloodstream really quick, and the caffeine provides a nice psychological boost.
When I'm riding in the big mountains, I always have a gel shot just before the start of each major climb. It may just be mental, but I find it helps.
They're also useful if you screw up and get behind on fuel, and can make the difference between getting home OK and a torture session with the evil Dr. Bonk.
I was surprised at how effectively they worked for me. And they're easy to down while ridin in a group.
I'm hooked on em for any hard rides over 35 mi.
When riding at any tempo, especially with others, I just don't have the breath or patience to chew on a gummy or dry-ish bar, fig newton, dried fruit, peanut cluster, etc. (I remember an oat bar that I literally inhaled down my windpipe and coughed for 3 miles.) The gel packs are useful because they're quick, soft, and swallowable. Helps me to take water after them. The sticky fingers can be a pain. Also, easy to get at and open. The expense is a drawback. I "seem" to notice a bit of a sensation from them in maybe 20 minutes.
They work great! I suck down one every 1/2 hour while racing.
Originally Posted by MachkaI do have to take a little bit of issue with these statements. I think they need to be put in a certain context to be accurate. I am gonna go out on a limb, based on Machka's website and posts here that her riding style is probably a bit more relaxed than some. She may go long distances, but is probably not a regular 20+mph Paceline hammerfest enthusiast (not that there is anything wrong with that).Originally Posted by Machka
I think it is important to think in this context because the gels work very well in my experience when you are really working hard. Keep in mind that most of these types of things have been designed for racing. In a hard hammer situation gels work very good for me. They go down fast. Digest easily etc. I find it hard to choke down anything solid in this situation.
On a more relaxed ride, say a century at a nice 15-18mph pace, I agree with machka's statements. On these rides I eat granola bars, bananas, fig newtons etc and find that gels don't seem to make much of a difference.
As is the case with most high performance fuels, I personally find they work best when I am in a high performance situation. Otherwise the old standbys work equally well if not better.
after an 8 mile climb, whose asking. They are convenient. I have thought so. when I suspect I might be going bonkers, even the live snails besides the road might look good.
Last edited by cyclezealot; 03-19-07 at 10:10 AM.
As someone mentioned they are not some magical pill that will boost your speed. In fact if they are working you won't notice any difference. Since all they do is keep your glycogen reserve "full", or at least not depleting as fast. They are mainly designed for high intensity exercise, or when solid food will do evil things to your stomach. For example everest challenge. Between altitude and high intensity ride all day they recommend gels over solid food.
I munch on cliff bars during training rides, with GU2O in water bottles on more high intensity exercise. During races I prefer gels for convenience they offer.
I see hills.... Bring them on!!!
Stay calm and bring a towel.
Originally Posted by Machka
You should be drinking water if you're using gels to get their full benefit.
This explains it about as good as any place I've seen.
Energy gels at $1 each are 1 cent per calorie of carbohydrate. As there are only 100 calories in a gel packet, you can get an equivalent amount in a couple low fat fig newtons. So, you can certainly get your calories from much cheaper sources. The advantage of the gels is convenience. If it's important to your riding, you can consume a gel packet in about 2 seconds. If you do it right, you barely taste it, which is a good thing considering how bad most of them taste.
If you are doing a more relaxed ride, it's far more enjoyable to eat some food that has good flavor.
I would argue that fig newtons take much longer to get the sugar into the blood stream than gels. If used, they would be best early in the ride.Originally Posted by supcom
Plus it's impossible to get fig newtons in my area with out HF corn syrup except those stale ones at the food store for the big $'s.
Originally Posted by derath
A minor point, but I don't think it has much to do with performance, but with effort. Many folks due to fitness, age or some impairment are, or at least can be, working just as hard at say 15 mph as those at 20. They are pushing their personal performance envelope just as much as the highly capable folks and the gels are a big pay-off for them too.
Then too, high speed in a pace line I would think is far less taxing than a lower speed solo. I experienced that riding with a lady triathelete on the local single tracks. I can keep up with her on the dirt, but on the one-mile pavement section between trails, she runs 22-23 to my 17-18. I killed myself trying to keep up until I drafted. Then it was a piece of cake. I can imagine in a whole line of folks it's even easier.